Technology closed the distance between Afghanistan and Grayslake did not seem so far away on Veterans Day, as fifth- and sixth-graders at Frederick School in Grayslake talked with a Marine serving there.
“Serving in the military is the best thing I’ve ever done,” said Roberto Gomez, a Marine based in Afghanistan. His voice and his image were shown on a large computer screen as he spoke via Skype with all the students at Frederick. “I have gotten to travel and see the world.”
For Riley Gomez, 11, of Grayslake, it was one more conversation with his dad.
“We Skype quite a bit,” Riley Gomez said of talking with his dad in Afghanistan. “It’s cool.”
Using technology like Skype that allows you to see, hear and interact with someone over on a computer screen has made deployments a little easier to bear for many veterans and their families.
This was one part of the first Veterans Day ceremony held at Frederick School on Nov. 11.
The event, organized by Lisa Guerrero and Jennie Janda, included two assemblies on Nov. 11 to honor the veterans in the community. Each assembly included a color guard, the GMS band, a guest speaker, a live Skype conversation with a soldier in Afghanistan and honored guests — veterans from within the community and Frederick family.
“It is important for the students to honor veterans,” said Guerrero. “We wanted this to be meaningful to them.”
Having several veterans in the gym from various branches of service helped bring the message home to the students.
“Frederick School would like to recognize all of our nation’s veterans, today and every day,” said Principal Eric Detweiler. He recognized local veterans who attended the ceremony, including:
Sgt. Gerald O’ Sullivan, Army, 10½ years of service
Leon Walker, Navy, 28 years
SFC Jose Guerrero, Army National Guard, 27 years
Joe Guerrero, Army, 11 years
Staff Sgt. Jeanne Messner, Army, six years
Mark Wilbur, Army, three years
Rodney Johnson, Navy, 17 years
Karl Gedeon, Army, 14 years
Paul Ahern, Army, 30 years
Lt. Col. Gary Smith, Army, 23 years
Chief Erin Asidao, Navy, 15 years
Frederick’s own physical education teacher Matt Will, Army Airborne, two years
“Veterans Day is about love for people, country and sacrifice,” said the Navy’s Asidao.
Sgt. O’Sullivan, who most recently served 11 months in Afghanistan, also spoke during the ceremony. He returned home to Grayslake on Aug. 5 to a warm welcome by family, friends and co-workers from the Grayslake Fire Department.
“The last tour was hard to be away from family and friends, but what makes it easier is the support from home,” O’Sullivan said. “We do appreciate your support 100 percent. Thank you for having us here and for recognizing us.”